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Our first son would cry every night for my wife to come lay with him to go to sleep. At 3 years old, it continued.....every night. My son would be put to bed and he would start his whine - "Mommy, come lay with me....Mommy, come lay with me.... " (this was after we spent the time reading a good night story to him) It was now at the point (a 1.5 years of EVERY NIGHT) where I had to get up and go to his room and tell him he needed to go to sleep and mommy was not going to come lay with him.

I told him if he did not stop his crying, I was going to close the door. He did not stop his crying - so I closed the door. He then got up and opened the door and started the whole "good night crying program" once again. I of course went back and closed the door - he got up and started again.

So, I did what I could to lock the door (a friend of mine told me that he had to lock his son in his room in order to break this bad bedtime crying habit). I did not have a door on his room that was lockable from the outside - so I tied a series of neckties from the doorknob over to another doorknob. My plan was not to leave him locked in the room all night long - but to get him into an understanding of what sleep-time is supposed to be....Sleep Training - right? Well, my 3 year old son went out of his mind throwing books and everything he could get his hands on around the room.

My wife felt that this was very cruel and eventually gave in. She continued to get beckoned to his room every night so my son could twiddle her hair in one hand while he had his other hand's thumb in his mouth.

I did not think that this was cruel; however, my wife, 14 years later, is still bothered my this. Can someone kindly offer their thoughts?

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I humbly suggest some marriage counseling. In reading your question, I think there's a LOT more going on than this one particular issue. –  DA01 Sep 17 '13 at 4:26
    
I edited your post...heavily. Took out a fair bit of portions about general parenting and marital issues and focusing instead, on the question posed in the title. There are many issues in your post, it is worth it to see a counselor or sit and identify the various issues you're facing so you can ask them individually. –  Swati Sep 17 '13 at 14:39
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2 Answers

No, you're not wrong in what you did. I think your approach made sense.

It sounds like the problem is rather a lack of agreement between the parents. As DA01 commented, this could be just a symptom of a deeper underlying disagreement. So instead of looking at this particular issue, try to focus on what might be the root cause underneath it.

Your post seems to be worded bitterly, so perhaps this has festered in your mind for a good while. I can understand how that makes you feel. This makes it extra difficult to talk about, which is why some counseling is probably a good idea.

I guess that suggesting counseling in itself is difficult to pose to your wife... not being trained in this, I can only suggest that you accept the blame for the issue, simply to avoid having to argue over who gets the blame - that defuses things and you can focus on getting help. Being confronted with "the D word" can't be helpful, but try to find your old common ground and build on that - get back into the same boat. I wish you all the best!

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The Situation in General

We all experiment with different methods when we first begin to parent. Sometimes you play with lines that should never be crossed. Sometimes you do things in the best interest of the child's future health and well being, even though it may not seem advantageous, helpful, or healthy in the present. While I can't speak to locking a child into a room, as I'd be more inclined to believe that to be borderline abuse, I also disagree with mama that she would give in to the child's demands to have someone present. That is also abuse, but in a different form.

A Note On Bedtime

The key to bedtime and fussiness is to diffuse the situation. Children pick up on an escalated situation and parental frustration and they can, amazingly, target those emotions until they are ultimately the winner. You have to stay calm and also be commanding at the same time. Gaining and keeping the upper hand all night, even after you have gone to bed, is key to everyone having a good night sleep. Methods may vary, but you must establish ground rules and you must be consistent.

My wife or I put our daughter to bed every night, until she goes to sleep. In the beginning we had plenty of issues. For a while she would still think it was playtime and try to bounce around on the bed. We stayed consistent, told her to lay down, and when she wouldn't, we would make her (physically). Now, several months later, we tell her to lay down and within minutes she is out like a light.

We learned to not get mad. You have to put yourself in the mindset of a child. Escalating an already tense situation could:

  1. Give bedtime a negative aura
  2. Will force you to lose the control.

Your Issues

You should seek some counseling for the relationship with your wife. It's not healthy in all honesty. It's especially unhealthy when things like this situation, which you are obviously bothered about because otherwise you wouldn't bring it up in a public forum, are still being discussed in your household 14 years after the fact. This situation should have been water under the bridge the next day.

You should have admitted you were wrong (I believe it was, sorry just my opinion, but that's part of discovering how to parent, you have to be wrong sometimes), apologized to your son, and your son only, and that should have been that. On the same token, the enabling from mama should also have stopped.

Parenting in general is always a tough choice and unfortunately, trying to get two different people, from two different backgrounds and experiences to stay on the same page is difficult. Please, seek some sort of counseling and handle these issues.

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